THE CORONATION STONE AND CHAIR
“THE Scottish Coronation Stone, the Lia Fail, or ‘Stone of Destiny,’ was said by tradition to have been the stone which Jacob used for a pillow, and to have been brought to Ireland, and from Tara to Scotland, where it had a resting-place at Scone till, in 1296, Edward I carried it to Westminster. It now forms part of the Coronation Chair, occupying the space beneath the seat. Skene, in his monograph, asserts it to have been originally quarried from the rocks near Scone.” — Chambers ’s Encyclopaedia.
The following is from “The Coronation Stone, “by Mr. F. Skene [1869, 4to.], referred to above: — “The popularly-received account of the stone may be shortly stated in the words of Pennant: — ‘In the church of the Abbey (of Scone) was preserved the famous chair, whose bottom was the fatal stone, the palladium of the Scottish monarchy; the stone which had first served Jacob for his pillow was afterwards transported into Spain, where it was used as a seat of justice by Gethalus, contemporary with Moses. It afterwards found its way to Dunstaffnage in Argyllshire, continued there as the coronation chair till the reign of Kenneth II, who, to secure his empire, removed it to Scone. There it remained, and in it every Scottish monarch was inaugurated till the year 1296, when Edward II, to the mortification of North Britain, translated it to Westminster Abbey, and with it, according to ancient prophecy, the empire of Scotland. The latter part of this account is unquestionably true.’“ It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to add that the most complete and interesting account of this historic stone is to be found in the late Dean Stanley’s “Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey.” See fifth edition, 1882, pp. 49-56.
TWO LONDON LANDMARKS MORE than once in his brief but bright and pleasant table-talks, we have heard Mr. Spurgeon refer to two stones well-known to those Londoners who are “something in the city,” and know its highways and by-ways. If the lecture had had the advantage of his revision, he would certainly have built these two stones, among many others, into the structure. This is our apology for inserting a short account of “THE LONDON STONE,” and “THE BOY AND PANYER.”
LONDON STONE IN Cannon Street, opposite the railway station, is the Church of St.
Swithin, rebuilt by Wren, and since modernized. Fixed in the outer wall of the church, and protected by an iron grille, is theLONDON STONE.
According to Stowe, it formerly stood on the south side of the street, but being regarded as an obstruction, it was removed in 1798.LONDON STONE was the Milliarium, or central milestone, of Roman London, whence as from a center the miles were reckoned throughout Britain, even as the Milliarium in the Forum was the center from which all Roman roads were radiated. — From Pascoe ’s “London of Today. ” The account given of the story by Noorthonck, in his “History of London,” 1773 (4to.), though almost identical with the foregoing, may be of interest.
He says: — “Close under the wall of St. Swithin’s Church is placed a stone, more remarkable by its name than by its; appearance. In Stowe’s time this stone was, as he informs us, fixed upright in the ground on the south side: of the street, near the channel, and was so well fastened with bars of iron as to secure it effectually from being damaged by carriages. This stone is of unknown antiquity, and it is worthy of admiration that more care has been taken to preserve the stone itself than the history of it. “The most remarkable conjectures have given this stone a Roman origin; for as the antient Roman colony extended from the river no higher than Cheapside, and Watling Street was the principal street or Praetorian Way, it has been supposed, with great probability, that this stone was the center from which they began to compute their distances to their several stations throughout England. Another supposition framed upon this is, that from this stone public proclamations and notices might have been antiently given to the citizens; for in 1450, when Jack Cade, the Kentish rebel, came through Southwark into London, he marched to this stone amidst a great confluence of people, and the Lord Mayor among the rest; and striking his sword upon it, said, ‘Now is Mortimer lord of this City.’“ Of the original form and size of this relic all record is, of course, lost; and it would doubtless ere now have disappeared altogether but for the pains taken to preserve its “remains” by a worthy citizen, one Thomas Maiden, printer, of Sherbourne Lane. It is said that “when St. Swithin’s Church was about to undergo repair in 1798, Mr. Maiden prevailed on the parish officers to consent that the stone should be placed where it still remains, after it had been doomed to destruction as a nuisance.” At that period of its history it was described as “reduced to a fragment not much larger than a bomb-shell;” and more recently, in Charles Knight’s “London,” as “not a great deal larger than a man’s head.” Bombs and heads must have been somewhat larger then than now; but certainly the aforesaid “British vandal and relic-monger” was doing his utmost to chip it away to nothing until the iron grating was interposed.
Engraven on the stone wall of the church, above the monument, are two inscriptions, the one in Latin, the other a free translation thereof, followed by the names of the then Rector and Churchwardens. The English inscription is as under — LONDON STONE COMMONLY BELIEVED TO BE AROMAN WORK, LONG PLACED ABOVT XXXV FEET HENCE TOWARDS THE SOVTH WEST AND AFTERWARDS BVILT INTO THE WALL OF THIS CHVRCH WAS FOR MORE CAREFVL PROTECTION AND TRANSMISSION TO FVTVRE AGES BETTER SECVRED BY THE CHVRCH WARDENS IN THE YEAR OF OYR LORD MDCCCLXIX. “THE BOY AND PANYER” FROM a handsome volume of Mr. Elliot Stock’s Camden Library Series, entitled “London Signs and Inscriptions,” by Philip Norman, F.S.A., we give a few particulars about the sculptured sign from which Panyer Alley, the narrow passage leading from Newgate Street into “The Row,” takes its :name. “It represents a naked boy resting on a pannier or basket, and holding what, in Strype’s time, appeared to be a bunch of grapes between his hand and foot, ‘in token perhaps of plenty,’ as he suggests. Within an ornamental border, apparently on a separate stone bellow, is the following inscription: ‘When ye have sought the City round, Yet still this is the highest ground.
August the 27, 1688. ’“ When Mr. Norman was writing his book, he had to note not only that the stone was “much dilapidated,” but that it was “in danger of destruction,” as the houses on the side of the alley where it stood were about to be demolished. These have since been rebuilt, and the stone (or stones) replaced, or rather placed several feet above the ground (on which it used to rest), so that the inscription is in less danger of obliteration than in the past. That this interesting curio was “in danger,’“ not so much of “destruction” as of being “improved away,” and very far away too, is clear, if there be any truth in the following paragraph which appeared in the Echo of January 21, 1893: — “A remarkable conspiracy was detected by the authorities of the City a few days ago, when an attempt was made to steal the celebrated Panyer stone in Panyer Alley, Newgate Street, which has for the last two hundred years marked the highest point of the City of London. It appears that a rich American bribed one of the workmen ,engaged in pulling down the old warehouse in which the stone is fixed, asking him to exchange the old relic for a modern stone, and promising to pay f 5o for the deception. The workman conveyed notice of this to the City authorities, and a guard has now been placed upon the original stone, which is a cherished heirloom of the City.”
The stone, no doubt, took the place of a previous one, according to Stowe.
Mr. Norman’s diligent research may be thus summarized: — In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the sale of bread was not allowed to take place in the bakers’ houses, but only in the King’s markets. It was sold in bread-baskets or “panyers,” and the coarser kinds, at any rate, occasionally in boxes or hutches. One writer gives it as his opinion that “the child is handing out a loaf, and that at a period somewhat later than the date of the ‘Liber Albus’ (1419), Panyer Alley was noted as a standingplace for bakers’ boys with their panniers.” Another idea is that the pannier is a fruit-basket. Fruit and vegetables were doubtless landed from the river near St. Paul’s, and porters carrying such produce may have passed through and rested themselves in this short passage on their way to Newgate Market, which, originally for corn and meal, became, as many of us well remember, a meat market, until happily it was improved away, and the unsavory site appropriated to enlarge the ever-growing Book Market of the World.